Saturday, February 09, 2008

Finished Quicksilver; McCain

So, I've been way off the map, stuck in the 17th century with Neal Stephenson. But I finally finished Quicksilver after weeks of reading (maybe more than a month, an eon in my reading life). The phrase "tour de force" gets thrown around a lot these days... "Entertaining"... "Thought provoking..." "Hilarious..." "Absorbing..." "Tales of the ruling class intersect with the exploits of Vagabonds. Lofty science turns into slapstick on a dime. Depressing realism gives way to explosive alchemical experiments." I don't know how to blurb this book. It would probably be rated R or worse as a movie, with sometimes graphic violence and sex. It's everything from beautiful to vulgar. But it's amazing.

Here's McCain vs. McCain, an editorial in a flagship conservative newspaper that came out a few weeks ago. It was a somewhat transparent attempt to prevent McCain from gaining the Republican nomination, in the runup to Super Tuesday. It didn't work, because the Republican field was not strong this time around.

Vince gave a pretty backhanded description of McCain on those lines:

McCain walks a line somewhere between pandering and probity. I actually find this a welcome difference from the complete groveling of the other Republican candidates toward the pop conservative issue of the day.

McCain also contrasts well with President Bush, who shamelessly colors all history and lies profusely without any apparent guilt.

Of the Republicans, McCain is definitely the statesman of the bunch.

This is a dictionary-worthy example of damning with faint praise.

To understand how I feel about McCain, you'll have to take a trip back in time to the 2000 campaign. Ron Suskind, profiling Rove in 2003, puts it about as succinctly as anyone could:
As for the Waterloo of South Carolina, most of the facts are well-known, and among this group of Republicans, what happened has taken on the air of an unsolved crime, a cold case, with Karl Rove being the prime suspect. Bush loyalists, maybe working for the campaign, maybe just representing its interests, claimed in parking-lot handouts and telephone "push polls" and whisper campaigns that McCain’s wife, Cindy, was a drug addict, that McCain might be mentally unstable from his captivity in Vietnam, and that the senator had fathered a black child with a prostitute. Callers push-polled members of a South Carolina right-to-life organization and other groups, asking if the black baby might influence their vote. Now here’s the twist, the part that drives McCain admirers insane to this very day: That last rumor took seed because the McCains had done an especially admirable thing. Years back they’d adopted a baby from a Mother Teresa orphanage in Bangladesh. Bridget, now eleven years old, waved along with the rest of the McCain brood from stages across the state, a dark-skinned child inadvertently providing a photo op for slander. The attacks were of a level and vitriol that even McCain, who was regularly beaten in captivity, could not ignore. He began to answer the slights, strayed off message about how he would lead the nation if he got the chance, and lost the war for South Carolina. Bush emerged from the showdown upright and victorious . . . and onward he marched.

McCain, having endured these attacks on his family and his reputation, turned around and made common cause with these people, going so far as to say he'd accept campaign advice from Rove this time around... hugging President Bush while hating his guts...

It is only the most personal example of many sellouts by McCain. He is a media darling and is portrayed as a moderate, and he's the Republican nominee. I wonder, though, since we essentially have 3 moderates left in the race, whether people will not vote for the real liberals and moderates instead of the somewhat clouded record of McCain.

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